Bounce Away Trampoline Liabilities

trampoline clip art

Trampolines are a popular form of recreation – popping in backyards around the country. Though trampolines may be fun, they are also a potential liability for homeowners because of the health and safety concerns of not using a trampoline properly. To minimize your risks and maximize your fun, consider the following recommendations.

Health and Safety Risks

While made for enjoyment, trampolines also pose health and safety risks. From sprained ankles to life-threatening fractures, most injuries result from improper use and/or inadequate adult supervision. Injuries are typically caused by the following:

  • Attempting tricks and flips
  • Colliding or landing on another jumper
  • Being pushed off or falling off a trampoline
  • Landing awkwardly while jumping
  • Falling onto the springs or frame instead of the bouncy center
  • Jumping, instead of climbing off
  • Jumping onto a trampoline from a higher elevation

happy children

Since using a trampoline can pose serious harm, practice the following precautions:

  • Always supervise all users on the trampoline, regardless of their ages or experience levels.
  • Only allow one person on at a time.
  • Do not allow children under the age of six to use a trampoline.
  • Do not place a ladder near a trampoline because it welcomes younger children to climb up and start jumping.
  • Do not allow jumpers to do somersaults or flips, as they could land on their necks or heads incorrectly.
  • Do not allow jumpers to use the trampoline as a way to jump onto other objects.
  • Securely attach safety padding to cover the hooks, springs and frame. Make sure the padding is a different color than the trampoline bed so jumpers can differentiate between the two areas.
  • Setup the trampoline on level ground away from trees and other obstacles.
  • Install safety netting around a trampoline to provide fall protection.
  • Inspect the trampoline before each use to make sure that the springs are secure and that the bed does not have any tears or holes.

To learn more about your homeowner liabilities and ways to prevent losses, contact us today.

 

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Buying a New Home? What You Need to Know about PMI

new home people

Spring is in the air!  For some that means buying a new or first home.  Purchasing a home is a dream for most. For those who cannot afford the 20 percent down payment, private mortgage insurance (PMI) can make that dream a reality.

Here’s what you need to know about what private mortgage insurance is and how it works-

What is PMI?

If you default on your mortgage, PMI protects your financial institution from losing money. In general, PMI is not required when a borrower makes a down payment of 20 percent or more. When required, PMI payments vary, but they are usually one-half of one percent of the loan and are not tax-deductible.
Here’s the breakdown: if you purchased a $100,000 home and put $10,000 down (10 percent), then the lender is responsible for 90 percent ($90,000). So, $90,000 is multiplied by .005 percent for an annual PMI of $450 or $37.50 per month.

PMI payments are required until a homebuyer pays one-fifth of the principle of the loan.

How to Avoid Making PMI payments-
In this tight market, avoiding PMI is very difficult. Yet, even if you cannot afford to put 20 percent down when purchasing a home, there are things you can do to try an avoid PMI:

Talk with your lender. If you have a good credit score and financial history, the lender may have a less than 20 percent rule in place.
Some lenders will waive PMI if you accept a higher interest rate of .75 to one percent more. Mortgage interest is also tax deductible.
Obtain an 80-10-10 loan. On this plan, 90 percent of the loan is financed with a first mortgage equal to 80 percent of the sale price. Then, a second mortgage is applied for the remaining 10 percent of the sale price with a higher interest rate. The monthly payments of the two mortgages are typically lower than paying one mortgage with PMI.
Tell your lender that paying PMI is a deal-breaker for you and that you will take your loan elsewhere if it is not waived. This may give you some bargaining power when negotiating your loan.

Terminating PMI Payments:
Keep track of your payments on the principle of your mortgage so you know when you’ve paid 20 percent. According to the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998, lenders must tell buyers at closing how long they should have to pay PMI. However, you should keep track of this information too!

Now that you know a little about PMI, you can talk with your lender more informed. Good luck with your home search and we would be happy to help you with any homeowners coverage you may need!  Feel free to contact us or you can submit a quote request on our website- http://www.assuresouth.com

Safety in the Workplace is a Top Concern for Small Businesses

A new study by Employers shows that workplace safety is a primary concern.  According to the survey four out of five business owners said that they were not prepared for the types of injuries that are most common in the workplace.  “Small business owners realize they have to protect their most valuable assets – their employees,” said EMPLOYERS Chief Operating Officer Stephen V. Festa. “Employee injuries can carry a significant cost, not only in terms of medical and workers’ compensation expenses, but also in terms of lost productivity and potentially lower workplace morale.” You can read the entire press release for the survey here.

safety first sign

Creating a Strong Safety Culture

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developing a strong safety culture has the single greatest impact on accident reduction of any workplace practice. This is why developing a safety culture should be a top priority for the managers and supervisors at your organization.

Safety Culture

A safety culture consists of shared beliefs, practices and mind-sets that exist at an organization, and form an atmosphere of attitudes that shape behavior in a positive way. An organization’s safety culture is a direct result of the following factors:

  • Management and employee norms, assumptions and beliefs
  • Management and employee attitude
  • Values, myths and stories
  • Policies and procedures
  • Supervisor priorities, responsibilities and accountability
  • Production and bottom line pressure versus quality issues
  • Actions or lack thereof to correct unsafe behaviors
  • Employee training and motivation
  • Employee involvement and buy-in in the process

A company’s safety culture is a direct reflection of the organization’s overarching culture and the people who work in it. As a result, most employees will generate their perceptions of safety and its importance based on the attitude their employer projects.

The following are four main types of safety cultures commonly held by companies in the United States:

Forced Culture: A company with a forced safety culture uses bribes and threats as a way to motivate employees to keep safety top of mind. Health and safety officers at these organizations are seen as police-like figures because of their constant need to enforce codes and rules. In addition, employees view these individuals as solely in existence to catch them doing unsafe acts and to punish them. In these cultures, the employees’ fear of being punished is so overwhelming that their performance lacks, creating an un-enjoyable work environment.

Protective Culture: A company with a protective safety culture prescribes a substantial amount of rules and regulations onto their employees. If an employee were to violate one of the rules, this may prompt management to create more rules. This ultimately creates confusion, as there are too many regulating factors in place.

Involved Culture: A company with an involved safety culture provides an abundance of safety training for employees, with the exception of top management officials. Though morale is higher at organizations with involved cultures because safety officers are not constantly policing employee actions, they also run the risk of not being as safe as they could potentially be. Management should be integrated into the safety culture to make it flourish.

Integral Culture: A company with an integral safety culture also provides an abundance of safety training for employees and they are attended by individuals at all levels. In these organizations, safety officers have budgets and authority, and enforce rules when appropriate.

In a strong, successful safety culture (the Integral Culture model), everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis by going beyond the “call of duty” to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and to intervene to correct them. In addition, co-workers look out for one another and point out unsafe behaviors to each other. As a result, a company with a strong safety culture typically experiences few at-risk behaviors, and consequently experiences lower accident rates, lower turn-over rates, lower absenteeism and higher productivity.

Promoting a Safety Culture at Your Organization

  • Develop a site safety vision including key policies, goals, measures, and strategic and operational plans
  • Implement a “buddy system” in which experienced individuals are paired up with newer workers. The experienced workers can serve as role models for newer workers and can demonstrate proper safe work procedures.
  • Encourage all employees to watch out for others. In doing so, develop safety responsibilities for all levels of the organization.
  • Align management and supervisors by establishing a shared vision of safety and health goals, and objectives versus production.
  • Implement a process that holds management accountable for visibly being involved, setting the proper example, and leading a positive change for safety and health.
  • Management should make themselves available during worker orientation and introduction sessions.
  • The organization should demonstrate a commitment to employee health and safety by implementing safe work practices and prescribing the mentality that unsafe actions are not tolerated.
  • Make health and safety part of workplace communications.
  • Encourage workers to report health and safety concerns that they encounter and respond to their concerns in a timely fashion. Also provide multiple paths for employees to bring suggestions, concerns and problems forward.
  • Develop a system for tracking and ensuring the timeliness of hazard corrections.
  • Ensure that the organization has a system for reporting near-miss accidents, injuries and the need for first aid.
  • Promote safety training sessions and host emergency response training.
  • Maintain safety equipment and ensure that it is worn properly by employees.
  • Revise incentives and disciplinary systems to accommodate safety and health concerns.

Creating an effective safety culture is an integral part of your loss control efforts. Contact AssureSouth today at 864-582-5481 for more assistance with all your employee safety needs.

Why Do I Need Personal Umbrella Liability Insurance?

in_rain_with_red_umbrella-1440x900

After a hectic work week, Jim Marshall was looking forward to a relaxing weekend with his wife and kids. He was just a few blocks from home when his cellphone rang. He glanced down to see who was calling. That split-second distraction was all it took for him to miss the approaching stop sign.

Jim plowed into the side of a passing car. The accident resulted in serious injuries to the driver and passenger of the other vehicle. Jim was sued, found at fault and ordered to pay $1 million for medical expenses, lost wages and the “pain and suffering” of the injured parties.

crash

Although he had auto insurance, the policy had a limit of $300,000. That meant that unless Jim had another way to pay the remaining $700,000, his assets (retirement savings and college funds for his teenage sons) were at risk of being garnished.

Fortunately Jim was able to keep his assets because he had a personal umbrella liability insurance policy to cover the remaining balance. Just as an umbrella shields you from the rain, an umbrella insurance policy protects you from a downpour—that worst-case scenario where you could lose everything in a lawsuit. Even if your assets are few, umbrella insurance also protects your income; in some settlements, wages can be garnished up to 10 years.

In addition to extending the limits of your auto and homeowners policies, umbrella insurance also covers personal injury claims, including false arrest, libel and wrongful eviction, typically excluded by those policies. Dependent teenage drivers on your auto policy are also covered.

family walking in leaves

Why put your nest egg, retirement savings and other hard-earned assets at risk? Umbrella insurance is an affordable layer of protection typically starting with $1 million in coverage, with additional coverage available if your financial situation changes. Contact AssureSouth at 864-582-5481 today for more information.

Protect Your Home While You Are Away

house

Unfortunately, no one is completely immune from theft. Whether you’re looking to protect your home while you are away on vacation or simply away at work, your first line of defense is to thwart burglars. Consider the following tips-

  • Keep your shrubs, trees and other foliage short and well-groomed. Make sure that there is nothing blocking the views from your windows and doors.
  • Lock up yard work tools (ladders and shovels) and garbage cans in your garage or shed. These items can be used by thieves to enter your home.
  • Install motion sensor lighting around your home and garage
  • Change your locks when moving into a new home.
  • Place “Beware of Dog” and home alarm signs in your yard. Even if you do have a dog or an alarm, this may deter potential thieves from trying to enter.
  • Never allow strangers into your home, even if they claim to be hurt and need assistance. Instead, keep your door locked and call the police.
  • Do not place a sign on your home with your family’s name. Thieves can look you up in the phone book, call you and may break in when you do not answer.
  • Turn down the ringer on your phone when you’re away and never leave information about how long you will be gone on your answering machine.
  • Alert friends and neighbors when you will be away for an extended period of time so that they can look out for suspicious behavior.
  • Place automatic timers on your lights and set them for different times for different rooms. This will give the impression that you are home and are doing different things in different rooms. Consider also setting a radio to a timer so that thieves are deterred by voices in the home.
  • Have a neighbor shovel or mow your grass if you will be away for a few days. This will give the impression that someone is at home.
  • Put a hold on your newspaper if you go on vacation.
  • Do not leave your valuables such as jewelry, art work or electronics sitting out in plain view. Hide these items in inconspicuous places such as old laundry detergent boxes.

dad and girl in front of house

Did you Know?

Most burglaries do not occur in the dead of night like most people think. Instead, they tend to occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. when people are at work. Thieves also strike when homes show obvious signs that no one is there. So, while you are at work, always keep your doors and windows locked. Also, if someone calls you and claims to be seeking information for a survey, do not provide information about your schedule or daily life. They can use this information to decipher when you will be away.

We’re here to help you protect your assets. For additional loss prevention tips for your home, contact us today!

Do Your Passwords Pose a Cyber Risk?

password

Do Your Passwords Pose a Cyber Risk?

A strong password is important for protecting your personal and business data but how do you know if your passwords are weak or strong?

According to an article from Property Casualty 360, A hacker guesses passwords in 76 percent of data breaches. It is important to follow some basic guidelines such as creating strong passwords, updating passwords regularly, using antivirus software, encrypting sensitive data, and limiting access to sensitive information and have protocol in place for off-premises work.

Staying away from using the most popular passwords could also help prevent a data breach. The full list of most popular used passwords of 2013 are-

1.123456
2. password
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. 123456789
7. 111111
8. 1234567
9. iloveyou
10. adobe123
11. 123123
12. admin
13. 1234567890
14. letmein
15. photoshop
16. 1234
17. monkey
18. shadow
19. sunshine
20. 12345
21. password1
22. princess
23. azerty |
24. trustno1
25. 000000

According to Travelers, strong passwords are your first line of defense against cyber attacks. Below are some tips to help you choose a strong and safe password.

-Make your passwords cryptic so they cannot be easily guessed; be sure it is something you can remember.

-Avoid writing down your passwords. If you do, keep them in a secure location – a safe, a locked file cabinet or lockbox perhaps.

-To create a strong password, use 8 characters or more in an alphanumeric combination. You should not use complete words. Also, avoid using your name or company’s name in your passwords.

-Never share your passwords with anyone. That includes coworkers, family members and friends.

-Be sure to choose different passwords for all of your accounts. Using the same password for each account is like using the same key to unlock your office, home and car – if the wrong person gains access to one, he or she has easy access to the rest.

-If you are a business owner, consider having automatic password expiration dates that require employees to enter a new password after a certain amount of time. Some companies set the expiration date at every 90 days. If you do this, consider not allowing employees to use older passwords within a specified time period.